I’m back in Fairlee, Vermont to attend my favorite annual gathering of the year, The Snow Walker’s Rendezvous. The event consistently attracts 100 fans of winter foot travel, be it walking, hiking, snowshoeshoeing, or skiing. It runs from Friday night to Sunday morning. I have been attending for over 15 years.
Friday night’s program kicked off with two of presentations that focused on winter backcountry skiing expeditions of 4-10 days duration in Quebec, specifically the Groulx Mountains, just north of the Manic 5 dam that is located several hour’s travel north of the St. Laurence River. That area is totally unique in that a map displays a perfect circle of blue water just above the gigantic dam, a geographic feature that was created millions of years ago when a asteroid hit the earth there.
The first two presentations took place in the deep winter of Quebec, Cacada!
Number one was by a two young folks who were in group of five that spent 10 days in the winter wilderness. Their trip was totally self-supported. One of the speakers was Andy Staudinger. The other was Emily Hughes. In 2008, Andy skied the length of Vermont, built a voyager canoe, and then paddled the length of Vermont, and managed to portage the boat and all the team’s gear back to base camp at Kroka Expeditions.
The second presentation was from Don Tedstone ( Quebec ): “Winter Travel in Les Monts Groulx“ Don has 7 successive years of 10 day winter trips to the same area. He is an advocate of “hot camping”, and shared stories and photos of the trips and his expertise in building his own silicone-coated nylon tent and stainless steel stove and stovepipe to heat the tent.
Here is a picture of the tent the Don designed and made himself.
The featured attraction of the evening was Tim Smith’s humorous and candid review of his experience on what turned out to be the final episode of The Discovery Channel’s “Dude, You’re Screwed” survival show.
Tim is the founder of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School, and is a Registered Master Maine Guide.
Tim enlightened us with the fact that the 1 hour show was composed of actual events, staged events, and trumped-up drama. The show is set up to be a game, where the contestant (Tim) is kidnapped and then helicoptered away to a very remote wilderness area (Northern Norway) above the Arctic Circle. The copter leaves Tim with one cameraman (who provided him with no direct assistance) and a small pile of assorted gear. The on-screen clock then started down from 100 hours, the amount of time Tim was allotted to reach civilization.
Parts of the drama of the show were believable, like disorientation of Tim’s sleep cycle cues. Tim deduced that he was above the Arctic Circle, due to the fact that the sun never set. However, without a watch, there was no way that Tim knew when to sleep. His first sleep occurred close to 24 hours of being moving and awake. This introduced the dramatic element of Tim habitually dropping off to sleep, even while he was keeping his makeshift coracle (primitive boat) upright while he was careening down a rapids-filled river.
For those of you who have no subscription to the Discovery Channel, here’s a YouTube link to the episode that I just found that is currently active. These clips go offline quickly, until someone puts them up again, so if you would like to be thoroughly entertained for 45 minutes, check it out right away.
Day one here was as good as I hoped for tomorrow should be even better.
Nuts and bolts:
Meals & Lodging: Simple lodging is available at the Hulbert Outdoor Center. Cozy 3-4 bedroom heated cabins provide comfortable accommodations. (As well as your tent!) Meals are served buffet style in dining hall. The Center is located on Lake Morey, and is easily accessible from I-91.
Program registration -$60; student/limited income-$45. Registrations accepted until program is full.
Meals & lodging packages are available for the weekend (Fri. Dinner through Sun. Breakfast, 3-4 occupancy/room)
Commuter & tent rates available
If you want to experience a most interesting weekend in Vermont next year (November 11-13, 2016), then ask to be put on the mailing list so that you won’t be left out in the cold- Mailing your request to Lynn_Daly@alohafoundation.org